If The Jacket Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit: An Analysis Of John Cochran’s Strategy On Survivor South Pacific

I was obsessed with the OJ Simpson trial.

I watched the car chase. The entire trial. I would skip classes to see it because I didn’t want to miss a single minute of Judge Ito’s pensive stares or Kato Kaelin’s crazy testimony.

One of the most important moments of the case was when Simpson’s attorney, Johnnie Cochran talked about the gloves not fitting Simpson’s hands. In the defense’s opinion, this proved that their client wasn’t guilty.

There is a new Cochran on trial now. John Cochran on Survivor South Pacific, is under fire from casual fans, pundits and former contestants for his decision to abandon his Savaii tribe at the merge and join up with Upolu.

In my entire reality television career, I have never seen so much debate about a single strategic decision. Personally speaking, I also have not been able to think about anything other than the controversial move. My reaction was perhaps at its worst during this past episode when Cochran not only had the gall to join the Upolu tribe who decided to sit out of the second immunity challenge and eat muffins but also to wear Coach’s jacket to tribal council and strut around.

It was the first time I had to turn Survivor off, because I couldn’t stomach what I was watching.

Why was I so disgusted? Or as Whitney Duncan would say, f****** disgusted? I thought about this and here are my conclusions.

Primarily, I think it is because I see so much of myself in Cochran. I also believe that many viewers also identify with him. We have grown accustomed to seeing strong and muscular men on Survivor who flaunt their Type A personalities as much as they flex their chests during physical immunity challenges. Cochran is a rarity. The sweater-vest wearing nerd who is competing with giants like Ozzy, Keith, Jim and Albert. You can’t help but root for him because that was who you were in highschool.

It’s for that same reason that I am sickened. I absolutely adored Cochran in the first few episodes. He wasn’t part of the pretty people alliance. He was exiled with the other outcasts (Dawn & Papa Bear) who were much older than him further highlighting the fact that despite his age, he just didn’t fit with the people in his own bracket. He was a loser.

It made me root for him. I wanted him to use his obvious knowledge of the game to work his way into Ozzy’s good graces. I likened it to how Philip regained Rob’s trust last season. I thought Cochran would easily be able to decipher tribal dynamics and see that Ozzy was the only one he had to impress to ensure safety. Instead he chose to harbor his ill will. And he became so consumed by his thirst for vengeance it overpowered any logic that he had.

Once again, the highschool analogy can be used. If you are being picked on, you dream of the day you will be able to get that person back. You want payback immediately. But the sweetest revenge is the one that you wait for. Striking when the opportunity is right instead of succumbing to immediate desire. The best revenge for Cochran would have been to win the game. ‘Ha, even though you guys wanted me out, now only did I outlast you but I have $1 million reasons why I am better.’ Instead he chose to exact his wrath at the first chance he got (the merge), and made what is undoubtedly the worst move in the history of the show.

Why is the move so bad? Why are so many people still debating it?

Simple. We already know that it cost Cochran his game. He has zero chance of winning. Even if he wins every immunity challenge from now until the end, Savaii will not vote for him. In addition, he ruined the games of his entire tribe. I am not saying that he should care about how Jim, Keith, Whitney, Dawn and Ozzy fare in the game because at the end of the day, he didn’t know them before he got there. What I am saying is that he has now subjected us to the religious zealotry of Upolu and I think it would have been far more compelling to see what would have happened if Savaii had gotten the majority. Think about it. Would Jim have turned on Ozzy? Would Ozzy have stuck with Keith and Whitney knowing that Keith might turn on him first? Would Cochran and Dawn staged their own uprising?

Instead, we will almost certainly be stuck with an easy road to the end for Upolu’s power players Coach, Albert and Sophie. I never argued against predictability before but now I have a better sense of what people were talking about last season.

In the end, I believe that it is just Cochran’s personality on the show that makes him so reprehensible to me. In one of the secret scenes, Coach talked about how Cochran intentionally wore his jacket to tribal council to stick it to Jim. Is this the same lovable guy who made an alliance with the medical marijuana dispensary owner to oust Elyse? I don’t think it is. His ego has gotten completely out of control with each passing day and the harsh reality of Upolu eliminating him before getting rid of their own will be much more satisfying than Shambo’s dismissal in Samoa.

I honestly don’t know how he could sit there and eat watching his former tribe struggle to win immunity and being so ignorant of the fact that as soon as they are gone, he is next and there won’t be any pastries to eat at that time.

A former contestant that I discussed the topic with pointed out that perhaps it is because he isn’t owning what he is doing that is making him so unlikeable. I think that is an astute point to consider as well. Would we be cheering if this was Boston Rob (I know I would be)? What about if it was Russell? Hatch? I am not sure.

Do not get me wrong. I appreciate how gutsy it was for Cochran to stand up to a tribe that he felt bullied by. But that should not overpower common sense. He killed his own game. Single-handedly.

He should have flipped. But much much later. Jim and Dawn would have been more than willing participants and we would be looking at it now as intelligent instead of inane.

Really, there is only one thing drawing me to this season which all of a sudden has become quite predictable. In all likelihood, Cochran and Ozzy will square off on a duel at Redemption Island. And regardless of the outcome, the result will be epic. Ozzy could get revenge only to be sent home again making him the first to be voted out three times. Cochran could finally redeem himself and win on Redemption Island after initially ducking Christine. It would be amazing.

Here’s the thing.

Coach’s jacket doesn’t fit him and it never will. Cochran needs to find out who he is rather than wearing other people’s clothes and making big moves just for the sake of making them. As a result I can’t acquit him. And if Johnnie Cochran was around and watching this season, he’d also be shaking his head at his titled counterpart. Guilty of the worst move ever.

** Note: At the very least, Cochran has given us something to talk about and made the season interesting. My views are strictly based on the game we are seeing him play and should not be taken as an assessment of him personally or how he is outside of the game.

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